MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Eachann Agus na Sparrows

Hector and The Sparrows

Alex MacKinnon CB 1 Tape 4 Tracks 4 and 5
Lake Ainslie Audio:
Village Verse


Ho ro 's toigh leam fhèin thu,
Mo nigheanag as bòidhche
'S an gaol a thug mi fhèin dhuit
Cha dh'iobrainn air òr e
Ho ro 's toigh leam fhèin thu.

'S an t-each aig Hector 'm bliadhna
Chan 'eil sian ach g'eil an deò ann
An t-each glas aig Alexander
An sàmhla ghabhas a phrobhadh.

'S cha dean fodar feum dha
Da rèusd a chumas beò ann
Gun dh'ith na "sparrows" a siol air
Tha shàbhal am bliadhna beò leo'.

'S a mhaduinn 's e ga fuadach
Gun tug e null an t-sabhal air
'S gun d'fhuair e 'n gunna aig Sandy
'S gun d'sheall e dha an doigh air.

'S thubhairt Céitidh ris nuair thill e
"Cuir bhuat i 's gun thu eòlach"
Thubhairt Hector tha e "easy"
'Se J.P. gam sheoladh.

'S loisg e orr' air siaradh
Bha ceud dhiubh ann an còrnear
Cha deacha sradadh riamh unnt'
'S gu robh iongnadh gu leòr air.

'S bha Calum ruadh ag ìnnse
Gu robh iongnadh nach do reòth' e
A sealg orr' aig a bhàthaich
'S e dha dhiubh riamh a leòn e.

Tha shabhall thu nis na stiallan
Mar chriathar a h-uile bòrd ann
'S e Ron a bha 'g a ìnnse
'S bidh 'n fhìrinn aig an còmhnaidh

'S e Hector a bha gleusda
Nuair rinn e fhèin an t-òran
'S am "blame" a chuir air Sàrag
'S i fhèin a dh'innis dhomh-s' e.

'S e Garret a tha gleusda
Gu treunadh nan òigear
'S cho fad 's a sheasas reins ris
Gu feum e bhi dòigheil

'S e 'n dròchaid mhòr am base aig
Gu treunadh nan cèird iad
'S ma ni e'n Caber Feidh
Bheir e'n eus nach bidh beò ann

'S bha Donnchadh fhein ag innse
Gu robh "speed" ann an eòrna
'S am bhithear a cur prìs air
A Rìgh tha mi'n tòir air.

Sibhse tha ri 'g èisdeachd
'S ag iarraidh tuilleadh eòlais
'S e luath a bha'n am peileir
Thug dha an ceum na òige.


Ho ro, I am fond of you
My bonniest of maids
And the love I gave you
I would not give up for gold
Ho ro I am fond of you.

The horse that Hector had this year
Is barely alive
A comparison with Alexander's grey horse
will prove this.

Fodder is no good to him
And what will keep him alive
The sparrows have eaten the grain off it (the fodder)
His (Hector's) barn is alive with them this year.

In the morning he was chasing them
When he went over to the barn
To ask for Sandy's gun
And he showed him how to use it.

Katie said when he returned
"Put it away, you're not used to it"
Hector said, "It's easy
J.P. was instructing me. "

He fired at them sideways
There were a hundred in a corner
He never hit any of them
Which left him very surprised.

It was told by red-haired Malcolm
That it was a wonder that he never froze
Hunting them in the byre
He only ever wounded two of them.

His barn is now shell-torn
Each board is like a seive
It was Roland who told it
And he very often tells the truth.

It's Hector who was cunning
When he composed the song
And then he blamed little Sarah
She told me so herself.

Garret is very clever
Training the youths
As long as he holds the reins
He will have to be sensible.

The big bridge is his base
Where he teaches them their trades
And if he dances the Caber Feidh
His steps are pretty dead.

Duncan himself was saying
That there is speed in the barley
And if it is being priced
Oh am in search of it

You who are listening
And want more information
It was lead from a bullet
That gave him the limp in his youth.


This comical song was composed by Garrett MacDonald, a blacksmith who resided on the Meadow Road, North Shore, Cape Breton. MacDonald was famous for his comical songs which poked fun at members of the North Shore community. In this song, he tells the story of bard Hector Carmichael's troubles with sparrows. He resolves to kill as many of the pests as he can but shooting them, it would turn out, was more difficult than anyone had anticipated.

The composer used the chorus and tune of the well-known song "Horo Is Toigh Leam Fhin Thu (Horo I Love You)."

This song and its story were published in the Cape Breton's Magazine (issue 7, page 17). The version there, from Donald Garrett and Catherine MacDonald, transcribed by Effie MacCorquodale (now Rankin), Mabou, Cape Breton, contains the first seven verses recorded by Leach.

Corrections and additions by Lorrie MacKinnon.

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